Ramea Deputy Mayor Lester Gould said he’s heard complaints from residents since the MV Sound of Islay, a swing vessel, took over the MV Gallipoli’s ferry route of Burgeo, Ramea and Grey River on Sept. 5, 2017.
The Sound of Islay is a smaller, older vessel. Gould estimates approximately one third of the boat’s crossings were cancelled last winter.
“Depending on who you were listening to, sometimes the cancellations were questionable,” Gould remarked. “There were occasions that some people determined there were no problems, the boat could have made a run today.”
Gould admits the residents making weather assessments ranged between “armchair sailors and people who would know the difference.”
The Sound of Islay carries approximately half of the cars and passengers the Gallipoli shuttles. Gould finds that he makes special arrangements to get his car on the ferry ahead of himself to avoid days of peak use.
“I have my vehicle in the line-up this morning,” Gould said. “The ferry has gone on to Grey River but when it comes back, I will see if I can get my vehicle on, because I’m expecting there to be more than enough for the run tomorrow (when he planned to take the trip).
“I have arrangements with someone to drive it off (in Burgeo). If I squeeze mine on tomorrow morning, then somebody else won’t be able to get on.”
Gould feels frustrated to know the Gallipoli sat in limbo for three months with no work being done at Burry’s shipyard in Clarenville, due to a stop work order issued by a government engineer, following a boat lift incident. “To be sitting there doing nothing, that wasn’t doing anybody any good, really,” Gould remarked.
Burgeo-LaPoile MHA Andrew Parsons, who acted as a liaison between government and impacted residents during the idle period, says there is a reason it took so long to move the boat to a yard in St. John’s following the stop work order.
“The Department of Transportation and Works, which had a contract with Burry’s, was in the process of trying to extricate the ferry from the shipyard, but to just take it and leave, let’s just say there that there may have been some legal issues there,” Parsons explained. “My understanding is that Burry’s won the tender when it first came out, but they got in some difficulties in terms of having as much done, progress and whatnot.
“In order for the department to make a move though, you want to make sure you cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s before you make a move as significant as that.”
Parsons said he is now “just happy to see some progress here.”
He appreciates that some residents have issues with their temporary ferry.
“When the Gallipoli is working there’s very few complaints about it, you can’t say the same about the Sound of Islay,” Parsons said.
Residents hope the Gallipoli will be back in service in late summer, but Parsons cautions that timeline is optimistic and that fall is a more realistic estimation.
“You need a lot of things to happen for these timelines to be met and sometimes things happen that are out of everyone’s control,” Parsons said. “When you don’t meet the timeline there’s automatically a sense of disappointment.”
The MV Sound of Islay was built in 1968, and is 43.41 metres long and 9.53 m wide, with a deadweight of 70 tonnes.
The MV Gallipoli, built in 1986, is 47.55 m long and 10.85 m wide, and has a deadweight of 293 tonnes.